Norad intercepts 2 Russian bombers over Beaufort Sea

The North American Aerospace Defence Command said it identified and intercepted two bombers on Thursday.

Russian aircraft remained in international airspace, didn't enter U.S. or Canadian airspace

Norad provided this photo along with a press release about two Russian aircraft intercepted in international airspace above the Beaufort Sea. (Norad)

Norad says it identified and intercepted two Russian bombers over the Beaufort Sea on Thursday.

In a news release, the North American Aerospace Defence Command said several aircraft were involved in the operation to identify the two Tupolev Tu-95 Bear H Bombers in the Alaskan and Canadian Air Defence Identification Zones.

Those zones cover Canadian and U.S. airspace and are monitored by Norad in the interest of national security. Any aircraft in those zones without authorization can be seen as a threat. According to international law, a country's sovereign airspace extends 22 kilometres from its coastlines.

"The Russian aircraft remained in international airspace in the Beaufort Sea and at no time did the aircraft enter United States or Canadian sovereign airspace," the statement from Norad said.

Two F-22 and two CF-18 fighter aircraft were deployed, as well as a Boeing E-3 Sentry — an early warning and control aircraft — and two other aircraft. Norad uses radars, satellites and fighter aircraft to identify aircraft and "determine the appropriate response."

"Norad operators identified and intercepted the Russian aircraft flying near our nations," said U.S. Air Force Gen. Terrence J. O'Shaughnessy, the Norad commander, in the statement.

In May, the U.S. military sent five aircraft to intercept two groups of Russian warplanes that flew in opposite directions off the coast of Alaska but never entered sovereign U.S. airspace.